Tan Lines

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Liza is beautiful, fearless, and slays rival media commentators with her firebrand feminist spin. So why is it that this summer, in the Hamptons, Liza is falling into all the old traps and clichés that she cautions other women to avoid?

Kellyanne hoped that this summer would be different. Waiting tables and playing mistress to a rich developer helps her to stay afloat before her big break as an actress. But why are the phenomenal looks that ...

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Overview

Liza is beautiful, fearless, and slays rival media commentators with her firebrand feminist spin. So why is it that this summer, in the Hamptons, Liza is falling into all the old traps and clichés that she cautions other women to avoid?

Kellyanne hoped that this summer would be different. Waiting tables and playing mistress to a rich developer helps her to stay afloat before her big break as an actress. But why are the phenomenal looks that were supposed to take her all the way leading her to the edge of disaster?

Billie rocks the indie music scene with an appetite for self-destruction. Sex is candy, drugs are fuel, and even her closest friends are disposable. So how is she supposed to find real success when she’s only looking out for number one?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A really great beach read. I loved it!”—Jackie Collins

“Sexy beach trash of the highest order.”—Elle

“Throbs with intensity…scorching.” —Publishers Weekly

“A hot, sexed-up read…Smut from the gut.” —Cindy Adams, New York Post

Publishers Weekly

Salem's debut is another in the long line of slick commercial thrillers that cast a trio of powerful female protagonists into their own personal hell as each encounters a pitfall sure to upset the balance of their everyday, fast-paced lives. With all of these intriguing female leads running around, Christopher Lane is a strange choice for narrating duties. As strong voiced and commanding as Lane is, his talents just aren't suited for this particular tale; a strong female narrator would surely have captured the very essence of each well-crafted and endlessly flawed character. The final result is surely less thrilling than Salem would have liked. A St. Martin's Press hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 7).(July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

The sexy feminist, the too-pretty actress who can't get a break, and the fading rock star-this unlikely trio rents a summer home in the Hamptons, NY. The prolog tips us off to a murder, a baby, and a meltdown, and it's difficult not to dread the ensuing plotline. Plenty of scorching sex and tabloid-style name-dropping keep the stereotypical characters busy. Purchase accordingly. [See Prepub Alert, LJ3/15/08.]


—Teresa Jacobsen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312556754
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

J.J. Salem is a USA Today bestselling author whose work has been published in several languages. He lives in the Southeast and is currently writing his next novel. Visit him on the Web at www.jjsalem.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Billie

There are eight thousand nerve endings in the clitoris, and this son of a bitch couldn't find any of them. Billie Shelton had definitely picked the wrong guy tonight.

It was almost over. She could tell by the rapid breathing and the slight body shudder. Anyone who thought nineteen-year-old boys possessed serious stamina should be introduced to Robbie Shamblin.

"Oh, fuck!"

Billie rolled her eyes. Is that what this was? At least he had the optimism of youth.

Robbie shot a look at the computer monitor, where two cheap blondes with implants and multiple body piercings were getting it on. "Shit, that was awesome." He jumped up and carelessly flung his condom to the floor. Then he sat down and started up a street racing game on Xbox 360.

Billie had been with her share of lame assholes, but this guy was a shoo-in to make her greatest hits list. "Well, I guess we're done here."

Robbie glanced back at her for a fraction of a second, causing his digital Shelby GT500 to skid onto the make-believe sidewalk. "Motherfucker!" He focused on the screen for several long, obsessed seconds. Finally, he spoke. "I could eat you out, if you want. But most girls say I suck at that."

Billie began to search for her clothes. She'd gone for the lean, funny guy on the main stage, the one who'd brought down the house at the Comic Strip. Big mistake.

And right now the choice was slowly killing her. To think she'd opted for this idiot over the hot marine. God, what a waste. The military man would've fucked her all night. And he wouldn't have needed to diddle around with his computer to get hard, either.

That insult bugged her more than the bad sex. Jesus Christ. She was Billie Fucking Shelton, a goddamn indie rock star. But that wasn't enough anymore. Not in the age of Internet porn. Guys had become desensitized by streaming smut on demand. Women today had to compete with super-sluts like Jenna Jameson. And for what? Fifteen minutes of awkward groping followed by a jizz spill? Men were lazy shits.

Billie sat on the edge of the futon and slipped on her shoes. From the TV, engines roared. From the computer, XXX whores moaned. What ever. Chalk it up to another lost night. It wasn't the first. It wouldn't be the last.

"You heading out?" Robbie asked without so much as a look in her direction.

"Yeah."

"Do me a favor. Knock on the door across the hall and tell my roommate he can come back in."

Billie laughed. At least this loser could make her do that much. "I haven't heard that kind of shit since college. Is this your apartment or your dorm room?"

"Huh?"

"Forget it," Billie said. Starting out, she went straight for the stairwell, then doubled back to grant Robbie his little favor. Hell, maybe she'd get lucky and end up doing herself one instead. After all, the last place she wanted to go was home. It was still too early. She was still too horny.

A hot guy answered the door. Better face than Robbie's. Better body, too. In the background, another man with a nasty bruise under his eye smoked a joint. He looked like a young Al Pacino from the first Godfather.

Without exactly being invited, Billie walked inside. "Your roommate doesn't know how to fuck . . ."

When the telephone blasted her awake hours later, Billie groped for it, if only to stop the shrill ringing from its relentless attack on her brain. "Hello?"

"You sound like shit." It was Amy Dando, her manager.

"I feel like shit. Call me later. I need to sleep."

"There is no later," Amy barked. "We're supposed to be in Todd Bana's office at eleven."

Billie groaned, craning her neck to get a look at the alarm clock. It was almost ten. "I can't. I'm all fucked out. Reschedule."

"No way."

"Come on. Today's not the day. Trust me."

"This is bullshit, Billie. You need this meeting. Todd is close to dropping your ass altogether. Just get in the goddamn shower. I'm coming over there." And then Amy hung up.

Billie was dripping wet and staring at herself under the harsh bathroom light when she heard Amy let herself inside her apartment. "I'm up," Billie called out. The reflection in the mirror had startled her. She looked shockingly bad.

Amy appeared in the doorway, very glamour-puss in a jewel-tone satin/chiffon number, a bulky Christian Dior ID bracelet blinging on her slim wrist. "If I had to guess right now, I'd swear you were thirty-eight."

"Fuck you." Billie puckered her lips, dramatically emphasizing her cheekbones. "I don't look that old." She peered closer. "But maybe I should get some injections. You know, Botox. And maybe laser resurfacing for the sun damage. I hear Dr. Parikh at the Tribeca Skin Center is a miracle worker."

"Maybe you should just get some sleep and stop drinking and smoking so much."

Billie rolled her eyes. "Why don't you save the speech and just leave the pamphlet on the coffee table?"

Amy opened up her snakeskin Gucci bag and pulled out a makeup case. "I've got my tools. I'll do what I can. But that hair is your problem."

Billie gave her an up-and-down glance. "You must've seen Nick last night."

Amy's face revealed nothing, which revealed a lot. "Why do you say that?"

"Because you always dress extra pretty the day after." Billie started to giggle. "So . . . did he use the strap-on?"

Amy had it bad for a twenty-two-year-old named Nicole. In lesbian culture, Nicole was what they called a boi— young, masculine, and ready to party. She worked as a Federal Express courier, took testosterone supplements, and recently spent $7,500 on surgery to remove her breasts.

Billie couldn't keep up. The dyke world was so much more than bad haircuts and box-shaped asses these days. Nicole dressed in NBA jerseys, oversize jeans, and baseball caps flipped to the back, while insisting that everyone call her Nick. And here stood Amy, ridiculously girly and runway stylish, every straight man's fantasy lesbian.

"Your situation with Nicole is so fucked up," Billie said. "Don't ever try to talk about my life."

"Nick," Amy corrected. "And FYI— as your manager, it's my job to talk about your life, especially when it interferes with your work." She sighed and began using a small white sponge to apply foundation to Billie's face. "In a perfect world, this would be a shade lighter."

Billie grinned. "I bet you used to say that to all the girls."

Amy cracked a smile. "It was a great way to meet women."

A few years ago, Amy had spent her days as a makeup artist, working the Chanel counter at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue. By night, she hit the Manhattan bar scene, trolling for musicians who just might be eager enough to sign a management contract with a novice. Billie was the first to take the leap. Every good firm in the city had already turned her down flat, and Amy was promising to manage Billie's career away from after-midnight acoustic sets in crappy bars.

"So how did you meet this freak anyway?" Billie asked.

"Craigslist," Amy said. "And Nick's not a freak. She's just different."

Billie couldn't believe that classy Amy frequented the online meat market. "Craigslist? Seriously?"

"I think her headline read, BOI SEEKS GIRL." Sifting through the makeup bag, Amy smiled at the thought. "There was a photo." She shrugged. "What can I say? I was hooked."

"I don't get it. She had her tits removed, she dresses like a guy, and she uses a strap-on. Why not save yourself the trouble and just find a man?"

"It's not the same," Amy insisted, making two quick sweeps over Billie's eyelids.

"I guess everybody's got their kinks."

"Your skin looks awful," Amy said. "You should go in for one of those lunch-hour chemical peels. I'll set up something with my dermatologist." Amy glanced around the bathroom. "I don't see any skin-care products. What are you using these days?"

"Hot white cum," Billie said, trying to keep a straight face but losing the fight. "You should try it sometime."

Amy's mouth tightened. "You've been blessed with beauty and talent, Billie. But you have to nurture those gifts. Otherwise, you'll fuck it all away." As she made her speech, she carefully lined Billie's eyes and lips. "Your hair's a mess, your skin's a wreck, and your body's seen better days." She reached for the underside of Billie's upper arm. "Look at that jiggle. When's the last time you saw the inside of a gym?"

Billie's first internal impulse was to lash out, but something deep inside told her to resist. Amy dished out the tough love for good reasons. At the end of the day, Billie Shelton was a corporation, and Amy Dando owned 20 percent of it. The relationship between artist and manager was intense. It ranked up there with husband, boyfriend, and parents, none of which Billie had presently. Amy was the only person in Billie's life truly looking out for her best interests.

"I've been working," Billie murmured, finally.

"On what?" Amy demanded. "You haven't done any shows. You haven't written any new music."

"I've got some great songs in my head. I just have to get them down on paper."

Amy dipped a skinny brush into a gloss pot and began to paint Billie's lips. "You make me crazy. If you had the killer drive of a Madonna, there's no telling where you'd be today."

"What about my third CD? I worked my ass off to finish it, and Todd's been sitting on those tracks for months."

"The label wants a hit single," Amy said matter-of-factly. "Can you blame them?"

"There were at least—"

"Billie, that album was shit, and you know it. I don't think you spent one sober moment in the studio. Now shut up, so I can finish."

Billie stole a glance in the mirror. Amy was applying an explosive Mardi Gras red, making her lips pop with inevitable sin. They were Billie's best feature. Especially her lower lip. It was naturally, impossibly, de cadently plump, with a deep gully carved down the center.

Men loved her mouth. Sometimes she could hear the horny gears churning in their stupid heads as they wondered what it would feel like to have her lips wrapped around their cocks. Onstage she took full advantage of this, practically fellating the microphone. Her fans went wild for it every time. Christ. The fucking fans. They conjured up alternate feelings of gratitude and rage.

Billie had left Dartmouth with a degree in government and a six-song demo recorded in the bathroom of her college apartment. The last thing she wanted to do was enroll in law school or work for some tight-ass politician. So she moved to New York and began making the rounds with her music.

In the beginning, she was a walking cliché. Girl with guitar. A Michelle Branch wannabe. A poor man's Jewel. All the rejection had been slow murder on her soul. And she made quite a spectacle of herself at management firms and record labels, telling bitchy receptionists to fuck off and refusing to leave until someone who made decisions turned up to give her a chance.

Luckily, she found Amy before causing this scene at Olympic Records. BMG Entertainment had just acquired it, and the buzz on its founder, Todd Bana, was deafening. He'd gone from producing concerts on his college campus to launching his own in de -pen dent label with an all-girl punk band called Menstrual Cramps. The group had gone on to sell over a million copies of their first release, That Time of the Month. Now Todd was a multimillionaire and the president of a major label. And the bastard wasn't even thirty yet.

The first meeting Amy set up for Billie had been with Todd. He signed her right away, even though he thought her demo was weak. He told her to write songs that would grab listeners by the throat and squeeze hard. She dug deep, and the result was Dick Magnet, a crude collection of sexually charged antilove songs that spoke to men and women of her generation. The breakout track was "Make Me Laugh and Make Me Come and I'll Fucking Marry You." College radio went ballistic. Rock critics went apeshit.

They said that she had more to say than Sheryl Crow, that her vocal chops outranked Alanis Morissette.

Sales were so-so. The CD got halfway to gold, about a quarter of a million copies. But her first tour did boffo business. She sold out small venues and wowed the fans. Word of mouth began to build that Billie Shelton could deliver a live show that kicked ass. A fifteen-date trek became thirty, then sixty. Ultimately, she stayed on the road for more than a year. It was exhilarating. It was exhausting, too.

Touring life could be a real bitch. It was boring, monotonous, and lonely. Musicians put up with so much shit just for that ninety-minute orgiastic rush of performing before a crowd. And it was easy to be seduced into the never-ending rock-and-roll cycle. Getting drunk, getting laid, getting to the next gig.

Billie turned the old double standard upside down. Male rockers who banged every groupie in sight were studs. Well, what was she supposed to do after a show— sit around doing a BLESS THIS HOME cross-stitch? Fuck that. She had groupies, too. College guys. They were young, they were hot, and they made up for a lot of lost time.

In high school, Billie had been the depressed ugly girl with bad skin. Mommy died of ovarian cancer. Daddy killed himself over the loss. She got shipped off to live with a bitchy aunt. But a few years later, Billie blossomed. The acne went away. Once awkward features chiseled into exotic good looks. A new confidence to explore her artistic side materialized. It sounded like a bad Lifetime movie, but it was her fucking life story.

Before the whole rock chick thing, she'd only slept with two guys in her entire life. Now she couldn't even begin to count how many men there'd been. Online message boards crackled with I-Fucked-Billie-Shelton stories. Of course, most of them were far from the truth. "She gave me a blow job after her show in Birmingham!" But she'd never once set foot in Alabama.

Billie hated the hypocrisy. The way people worried about a woman who went out there and fucked like a man. Nobody speculated that Adam Levine of Maroon 5 had been molested by his Uncle Charlie. A guy who enjoyed sex and balled his way across the country was a cocksman, but a woman who did the same had to be damaged goods, acting out some past violation. What bullshit.

Still, the dick parade was growing tiresome. For every mind-blowing session that made her toes curl (a rugby player from Trinity College came to mind), there were always several encounters that did nothing at all for her. Like last night's interlude with Robbie, the comedian. Maybe one day he'd figure out that his funniest joke was dangling between his legs.

When would the boy train stop and let her off? All the college dudes. And other musicians. Oh, God, the musicians. Even if they were twenty years older, they were still boys. Where were the real men? Not listening to her music and showing up at her concerts. That's for goddamn sure.

Billie's core base of support skewed younger—primarily eighteen-to twenty-four-year-old males, but some females, too. And here she was inching closer and closer to twenty-nine. The thought was sickening. Her true die-hard fanboys called themselves Billie Goats. They waged online wars to see who could build the most lavish Internet shrine dedicated to the worship of Billie Shelton. Depending on the day, this could make her feel grateful, dismayed, or just creeped out.

It didn't help that her first album had been so fucking awesome. Dick Magnet was widely regarded as a masterpiece. And nobody let her forget it, least of all the Billie Goats. They wanted another one just like the first.

Pussy Power sure as hell wasn't. That had been her follow-up, or, as the industry commonly referred to it, her sophomore slump. Sales on the set dropped 30 percent from her debut. It contained no buzz tracks, either. The only silver lining was the concert revenue for her second tour. That remained strong. But it was the old music that triggered passionate crowd responses. The new songs just didn't excite them.

Billie could see the writing on the wall, and it terrified her. She didn't want to be one of those new artists whose best work was already behind them. Maybe that's why she'd stayed drunk throughout the recording of her third CD. After all, alcohol dulled fear. And if worse came to worst, it was something to blame failure on, too.

Suddenly, Amy broke her free of the reverie, guiding Billie's head to face the mirror directly. "See . . . you're almost pretty again."

Billie stared at her own image as if at an X-ray. "Almost" was right. A journalist had once described her ripely round yet sharply angular face as an aesthetic wonder. But none of that seemed to be working for Billie now. Had the slow rot from years of raunchy living suddenly become visible?

Amy reached for the blow-dryer and began fluffing out Billie's long black hair.

"Make me an appointment with that dermatologist you were talking about," Billie shouted above the hot air flow. "And a good hairstylist. I want a personal trainer, too. I need to put this package back together."

Amy nodded blankly to the beat of each request.

Billie eyed the pack of Marlboro Lights near the sink. Oh, God, how she wanted one. And in all honesty, she deserved it. Usually, a cigarette was in her mouth before she opened her eyes in the morning. Amy had screwed up her routine today, so one smoke right now would still be cutting back.

Amy shut off the dryer. All of a sudden, she seemed pissed off. "You know, I shouldn't have to do this, Billie. I've got other clients. Having to wipe your ass all the time is getting old."

Billie lit up, dragging deep. Right away she felt better. She didn't understand why Amy was talking shit. "Yeah? Well, get over it. I'm your biggest act."

"Not anymore." The comeuppance in Amy's tone was bracing. "Internal Bleeding is."

For a second, Billie just looked at her. "Those losers you found at that bar mitzvah?"

Amy nodded. "One of their songs just got tapped for the next Ben Stiller movie. And they're going to be opening for the Killers. A lot of press is coming their way, too. There's a Blender interview scheduled for later today."

Each bit of news hit Billie like a punch in the gut. One of her songs should be in a movie. Why hadn't Amy landed her a gig as an opener for a major act? And speaking of Blender, she should not only be featured in the magazine, but on the fucking cover. This made Billie wonder if Amy was doing enough for her. Maybe she needed to start thinking about a new manager.

"I know what's going through your head," Amy said. "You're wondering why all of this isn't happening for your career."

Billie stared, taking another drag on her cigarette before answering. "Yeah, that thought crossed my mind."

"It's because these guys actually give a fuck. And they work their asses off."

Billie stomped out of the bathroom and began pillaging through her closet, searching for something to wear, practically setting herself on fire with her own cigarette in the process. She chose a schoolgirl's uniform skirt and a distressed T-shirt emblazoned with Minnie Mouse grabbing her crotch and flipping her middle finger.

Amy turned up in the doorway of the cluttered bedroom. "I'm sorry, but that's the truth."

Billie turned on her hotly. "You know what the real truth is? I signed up when you were just a lipstick girl. But you had some success with me and got inside the system. That's how you're making things happen for your new clients. Some fucking loyalty would be nice. I took a chance on you. Make something happen for me!"

"What do you think I'm trying to do? Without me, you would've slept through today's meeting or shown up looking like a road whore. By the way, take off that hideous shirt."

"I thought you didn't want to wipe my ass anymore. Now you're picking out my clothes."

Amy sighed, shutting her eyes for a moment. "Jesus, Billie, you're exhausting. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it anymore. Are you happy with me? Do you want to end this?"

Billie experienced a minor sense of alarm.

"Maybe you should find a new manager."

Billie couldn't believe it. The bitch was looking for an out. And this scared the hell out of her. Shopping for new management when her career was in a slump could be risky. She might easily end up with someone lower on the food chain than Amy. "I can't believe you just said that. We fight all the time. Now all of a sudden you think I want to call it quits?"

Wearily, Amy leaned against the door. "I don't know what you want anymore. I just know that you're high maintenance and not worth the trouble. It's May, Billie, and you haven't earned a dime of new income this year. You made some nice money on your tours, but not enough to keep living the way you do."

"Am I broke?" Billie had no idea about her personal finances. She just relied on ATMs, charged up credit cards, and wrote out checks, assuming there would always be plenty of money to cover the damage.

"No, you're not broke," Amy said. "Yet. But you don't listen. I told you that Hamptons house was a bad idea. Keep spending fifty grand on a summer share, and you will be broke."

Billie had to admit the price tag on the East Hampton digs was high—$150,000 for the full season. Even split three ways, the figure stung. But Billie and two girlfriends, Liza Pike and Kellyanne Downey, would be living like stars in a spacious palace with ample privacy.

Liza had secured all the arrangements, obviously thinking money was no object. From her vantage point, why should it be? Her first book, Whore, had been a bestseller. It was basically a four-hundred-page bitch session about the way American culture sexualizes young women too soon. Billie never got through the first chapter. Beyond that, Liza wrote a syndicated newspaper column and appeared on an issues-oriented cable talk show every week. As for Kellyanne, she had no money worries, either. Some married real estate developer in Miami bankrolled her every move. So how could Billie poor-mouth and balk at her share of the summer house? After all, she was the fucking rock star.

The idea of spending an entire summer with the girls made her nervous, though. Back in college, this was a group that had forged a bond during a spring break trip to Cancún. To Billie's amazement, they still kept in touch. Once a year, they plotted a weekend getaway— shopping in Los Angeles, a spa retreat in Arizona. But a whole summer together?

Now Billie was smiling at Amy, hoping for an instant truce. In all honesty, she needed her. Amy didn't blow smoke up her ass. If something was fucked up, she said so. Billie could trust her. And Amy kept her eye on the big picture all the time. These were critical qualities in a good manager. "I know this summer share thing is a splurge—"

"A splurge?" Amy cut in. "Paying retail for a Gucci bag is a splurge. This is completely irresponsible."

"Even if you have a standing invitation to come any weekend you want?"

Amy didn't appear to be sold. "I hate the Hamptons."

"Why? It's beautiful— the sun, the beach, the fresh air. What are you going to do? Stay in the city all summer? Aren't you sick of the same crappy dyke bars night after night? I bet Nick would get really turned on by the sight of tan lines on you."

A faint smile found its way onto Amy's lips. "I'll think about it."

Billie gave her a look of contrition. "Are we cool now?"

"We're cool," Amy said. "But please change your shirt. I don't want Todd to mistake you for Courtney Love's little sister."

Todd Bana inhabited so much cocksure macho swagger that Billie swore she could hear his balls clang when he walked. It was uncanny how closely he resembled Scott Caan, the actor with the Hollywood pedigree. They shared the same good looks, muscled physique, and height challenges. Both men stood five foot five, providing they had on boots with a generous heel.

But Todd Bana would do nicely. He was just as hot as his more famous look-alike, if not more so. Even better, he was right in front of her, sitting behind his massive desk as if he ruled a small country.

Billie and Amy had been forced to cool their heels in his outer office for almost an hour. Had he really been busy? Or was it just a sick opportunity to make an artist sweat the outcome of her future?

She glanced over to see Todd's assistant— a sleek, efficient-looking fag in regulation Prada—discreetly off to the side, headset microphone in place, pen poised for quick note-taking.

Billie knew that she should be feeling anxious right now. Her career at Olympic could already be over. This meeting might just be the formal good-bye. But deep down, she sensed otherwise. Most companies were motherfuckers about such things. If they were dumping her, she'd likely read about it on the entertainment newswire, along with everybody else. Plus, Todd couldn't take his eyes off her mouth. Those famous Billie Shelton lips. She knew exactly what he wanted them to do.

"What do you feel like hearing first?" Todd asked. "The good news or the bad?"

Amy spoke up. "The bad. We assume it has something to do with your sitting on the third CD."

Todd propped up his feet. The soles of his expensive Italian shoes were unblemished, as if he'd just taken them out of the box. "Sitting on it implies that we're waiting on the right time for release. There is no right time to release absolute shit."

Billie stared at him impassively, even though she was seething inside. What a smug son of a bitch. She waited for Amy to rise to her defense. Playing bad cop was the manager's job at business meetings. But Amy just sat there like a dumb-ass while Todd went on.

"Instead of releasing Billie from the label, I'm willing to try something else." He zeroed in on her now. "I liked what you had to say with your first CD, but your second one was weak, and this third effort was a disaster. Maybe you've hit a dry well when it comes to writing your own songs. Nothing wrong with that. Happens to artists all the time."

Amy leaned forward, finally showing signs of life. "I think you're rushing to judgment, Todd. Billie's toured extensively. But she's had some time to recharge creatively. I think her next batch of—"

Todd cut her off. "Plenty of artists tour extensively. You record, you promote, and you hit the road. That's the gauntlet for everybody."

"Give Billie a chance to—"

"That's exactly what I'm doing," Todd snapped. "I'm giving Billie a chance that most labels wouldn't." Then he threaded his fingers behind his head and smiled.

Billie noticed Todd's biceps straining the fabric of his shirt. As much as she hated him right now, she found him insanely sexy, too. "And what chance would that be?" she asked.

"To go back into the studio and record again," Todd explained. "But not on your own, this time. You'll just be a singer working with outside producers and writers on material that I preselect."

Billie shot a look to Amy, who didn't seem happy at all. But Billie wanted to hear more. Just showing up to sing? It sounded like a vacation. Writing and producing her own stuff had always been a real grind. Maybe Todd was right. What if creating the kind of music that made up Dick Magnet was all part of her past?

"I want to mainstream your image," Todd went on. "Glam you up a bit." He gave her a quick, assessing once-over. "You should lose at least ten pounds. Do something with your hair, too. The goal is to take things in more of a pop direction but still keep that rock edge. I just had a meeting with White Tiger. They've got three new songs that would be perfect for you. And they're interested in hooking up."

Billie just sat there, humiliated by the make over bit, stunned by the proposal, but mostly shocked by the mention of White Tiger. They were a writing/ production team that had generated radio hits for scores of bubblegum acts with factory-like regularity.

Amy lengthened her spine. "White Tiger? Todd, what the fuck are you thinking? They've worked with Hilary Duff and Britney Spears. You're talking to Billie Shelton."

"I know that," Todd said. "They worked on the last Hannah Montana record, too. That went platinum. Meanwhile, I can't scrape together gold adding up sales on all my Billie Shelton albums put together."

Amy shook her head. "I don't like this. The shift is too extreme. It alienates her fan base. And if it bombs, what then? She's back at zero. An alternative rocker who sold out."

Billie just sat there. What scared her more than the idea of failing at something big was the thought of just scraping along. She didn't owe the Billie Goats a goddamn thing. How could Amy sit there and worry about a fan base that didn't have the numbers to push her to gold? Fuck them! What was so wrong about going pop? Hell, she'd go polka if it meant a platinum record. Why should that fake punk bitch Avril Lavigne squeeze all the cash from those Hello Kitty purses?

Billie looked at Amy. Then she turned back to Todd. "I'm in." By peripheral glance, she could see the surprise on Amy's face.

"Good," Todd said, winking at her. "Because I'm going to make you the baddest bitch in pop music."

Billie smiled. She liked the sound of that. It might mean selling out. But it also meant trading up.

Todd swung his feet to the floor and rested his forearms on his desk, shifting to serious business mode. "Amy, we'll need to work out a new deal. I'll want a piece of the action on Billie's touring and merchandising to offset the investment in a launch like this."

Billie saw the immediate flush of anger hit Amy's cheeks. Traditionally, those pieces of the artist's pie were off limits. But the business was changing. Every possible revenue stream was up for grabs. The Internet and the iPod revolution had turned the old music industry economic model upside down.

When Billie nodded her agreement, Amy stood abruptly. "Call me later, Todd," she said tightly. "We'll hammer out the details. I'm late for another meeting." And then she glared at Billie and walked out.

Todd gestured for his assistant to exit, then got up to shut the door behind him. He turned the lock. "I'm going to make you rich, Billie. Famous, too." His gaze never left her mouth as he unhooked his belt and started toward her. "I'm going to get your next single all over the radio. Do you want the cover of Rolling Stone?"

Billie moistened her lips with her tongue and nodded.

"I'll get you that, too." He stopped directly in front of her and dropped his pants. "So what are you going to do for me?"

Billie went to work, determined to suck Todd Bana until his eyeballs fell out if that's what it took to get the Olympic machine behind her. She thought about his platinum promises. She thought about the Hamptons getaway, too.

"Goddamn, you've got a hot mouth," Todd moaned.

Billie gazed up. The idea of this man becoming a beach boyfriend had a certain appeal. Todd could spend his weekdays making her a star and spend his weekends making her come. The fantasy was almost as delicious as he was. And she no longer had to wonder why Todd was such an overachiever. He was a short man with a big cock. Those kind of guys were unstoppable. They wanted to conquer everything.

Billie thought about Liza and Kellyanne, the way they always laughed at her for attracting stoners and skater boys. But this time she might have a major music mogul on her arm. That easily trumped their men. Liza's husband was a fireman, and Kellyanne's benefactor was old enough to be her grandfather. Game over.

As she snaked her tongue up and down Todd's long and thick shaft, a certain feeling struck her. Even with Memorial Day still more than a week away, Billie knew that this would be the most unforgettable summer of her life.

"Come on, baby, show me how deep you can take it," Todd whispered thickly.

Billie laughed to herself. The bastard had no idea . . .

Excerpted from Tan Lines by J. J. SALEM

Copyright © 2008 by J. J. Salem

Published in May 2009 by St. Martin's Press

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2012

    Different... but in a good way.

    Never read anything quite like this. Very "raw", but loved the twists and turns of the story, all the way to the surprise ending. Loved all the references to the celebrity lifestyle, too. Love reading stories of empowered women, but these three were a little out of control!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2011

    Entertaining...a good beach read

    It was a great book to read on the beach if you're expecting constant interruptions, silly at times, but entertaining throughout.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Fast fun quick read but

    I enjoyed the book very much until it's lackluster ending. It was almost as if the author tired of writing and just quit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2009

    Very Entertaining

    This book is deffinately not what it looks like on the cover. It is a great read, I could hardly put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2009

    Not the Cover

    What one thinks one is to get, one doesn't. This is a difficult piece to read and not that pleasant. Silly in many ways and ugly. The characters are one sided and innane. Other than the scenery of the location it has very little. Don't waste your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2009

    Not worth the trees made to print

    As someone who writes all day long myself, it was a bit of a shocker to discover I disliked this book so much that I ended up recycling it. If I had been home - I would have returned it to the store. NOT a nice summer read, or even a trashy one. It makes you wonder what the author and editors were thinking when they publish a book that mimics the horrible premise of the book - with no characters being redeemed and the strong, healthy woman in the book being brutally murdered, another descending into the hold of addiction and yet another being raped and humiliated until her "keeper" dies. Whew. It doesn't get better as it goes along...I know, I kept thinking it might. Nope.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    Sexy Story

    If you like Jackie Collins you will like this author also.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 16, 2009

    Good but trying too hard.

    I really loved the charaters and the story. However, I could have done without the expicit sex and drug scenes. To me, the author seemed to go overboard with this. This was a great story without all the graphic sex. That's just over kill in my opinion. To tell the truth, I didn't realize this was written by a man until half way through the book. I looked inside the back cover. I should have known with the sex talk that women just don't think or write like that. Don't try so hard next time. A good story doesn't need it.

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  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sexy Novel Sizzles

    Posted May 11, 2009, 2:44 PM EST: Can't get to the beach this summer? Not to worry - grab a cold lemonade and this book, then settle into a lounge chair on your deck or patio and it will be almost the same! In the tradition of those great beach books by Jacqueline Suzanne and Sydney Sheldon, Tan Lines delivers for sheer entertainment value. Three young women's lives converge during one hot (in more ways than one) summer in the Hamptons. All of them have issues with men. This book gets a couple of extra points for having one character who's a feminist writer condemning the ongoing degradation of women. Then the point is proven as we watch the three women degrading themselves in various ways. Plenty of naughty sex, lots of scandal, and a great beach setting keep the action going. Mr. Salem also seems to know the name of every clothing and accessory designer in the business, as their names come up in any situation involving getting dressed - or undressed. I give the book five stars not for being great literature - which it isn't - but for delivering exactly what the cover promises.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sexy Novel Sizzles

    Can't get to the beach this summer? Not to worry - grab a cold lemonade and this book, then settle into a lounge chair on your deck or patio and it will be almost the same! In the tradition of those great beach books by Jacqueline Suzanne and Sydney Sheldon, Tan Lines delivers for sheer entertainment value. Three young women's lives converge during one hot (in more ways than one) summer in the Hamptons. All of them have issues with men. This book gets a couple of extra points for having one character who's a feminist writer condemning the ongoing degradation of women. Then the point is proven as we watch the three women degrading themselves in various ways. Plenty of naughty sex, lots of scandal, and a great beach setting keep the action going. Mr. Salem also seems to know the name of every clothing and accessory designer in the business, as their names come up in any situation involving getting dressed - or undressed. I give the book five stars not for being great literature - which it isn't - but for delivering exactly what the cover promises.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2008

    Great!!!!

    Great read!! Finished within two days. Could not put the book down, it leaves you wanting more...can't wait for the next one from JJ Salem!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    Hot! Sexy! Raunchy! Gritty! Fabulous!

    What Can I say?... Except for READ THIS BOOK! Do your self a favor and pick it up today b/c you won¿t be sorry. J. J. Did a GREAT job and I can¿t wait to read his next novel. Hurry up J. J.! This was so indulgent and an easy, but highly interesting read. Here is the 1st line of his book (just to give you a taste): ¿There are eight thousand nerve endings in the clitoris, and this son of a bitch couldn¿t find any of them.¿ Ha! I read that in BN and I had to pick it up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A reviewer

    In the Hamptons, the three women arrive for a summer of renewal as none are happy at the moment. Political expert Liza Pike is thinking of divorcing her post 9/11 firefighting spouse Justin, but is thinking of future children with or without him. Depressed former actress Kellyanne Downey is tired of being the mistress of affluent businessman Walter Isherwood, who treats her with possessive scorn. Finally indie rocker Billie Shelton thinks her career is over and perhaps her life with it.--------------- This trio meets at a rental they share for the summer. However, whether their TAN LINES predict a happy ending seems unlikely as the most wonderful summer of their lives includes a fifteen stabbing killing, a premature baby, and a public humiliation just another day at the beach in Long island.-------------- TAN LINES is a delightful contemporary fiction tale starring three wonderful females who ¿bond¿ suddenly last summer at the Hamptons. Each comes out there for renewal and escape from the testosterone scum in their lives, but sometimes you get what you wish for. The descriptions by the lead trio make the tale as verbal slicing and dicing especially of their respective significant other is fun to follow while everything goes wrong.----------- Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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